Online platform Advisory dispenses career guidance from the pros, so that you won't have to give up on your dreams.
He remembers feeling stuck when he could not find enough information online about the jobs he was interested in.
Mock Yi Jun was then a 17-year-old junior college student, thinking about entering the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). While he found plenty of articles about educational requirements, he really wanted advice from working professionals.
To find out more about being a foreign service officer, Yi Jun decided to apply for an internship at the MFA, where he learnt that beyond the glamour, the job was tougher than expected.
“One of the officers told me that no matter where I go or what I choose to do in life, hard work is required if I want to do well.
“My experience interacting with the professionals made me feel being a foreign service officer would be a good fit for me,” said Yi Jun, who is bonded to MFA after he graduates from university.
He realised that getting access to such working professionals could help other youths make better decisions about their careers too, so with five of his friends, the 21-year-old started Advisory, an online platform where youths can have virtual access to any industry they want.
“I was lucky to have those opportunities, but wouldn’t it be great if everybody had the chance to have the same experiences?,” added Yi Jun, an undergraduate from the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Advisory, officially launched in July 2016, is a website that carries interviews with industry professionals and provides insight into uncommon jobs such as photojournalists or policy makers.
The second-year student said: “If you have interests and dreams, we want to show you that it’s achievable in Singapore, so you don’t have to give it up. If more young people had access to this kind of information, it would help them decide what occupations and industries they’re most suited for.”
Yi Jun recounted how Advisory helped his friend re-visit her once abandoned dream of becoming a pilot after she read an interview with Changi Airport Group.
“Airport operations was an alternative career that aligned with her interests, and it was something she had never considered before Advisory. She hasn’t switched to studying airport operations, but you don’t need to study it in order to work in the field.
“That’s a myth we want to dispel with Advisory. Qualifications may help you determine what you do in life, but you can still work in a totally different industry,” said Yi Jun.
Starting Advisory from scratch has been a steep learning curve for Yi Jun and his team.
“None of us can code or program, so we depended on the kindness of others to create our website. We even had a crash course on creating Personal Data Protection Act consent forms,” quipped Yi Jun, who is studying political and international relations.
Looking for suitable contacts of job profiles for their interviews was, and still is, a challenge for the team. They have since published over 20 interviews with professionals from sectors such as education, retail trade and information and communications.
Yi Jun said: “For now, most of our interviewees are favours from friends, because it’s hard to secure profiles from different industries.”
Sometimes, interviewees are found by chance.
“We walked into a plastic modelling shop once and found out the owner was a civil engineer. He had interesting opinions on Singapore’s education system and from there, we just asked if he’d like to be an interviewee,” recounted Yi Jun.
Advisory also approached local organisations, such as Young NTUC and Youth Corps Singapore, to get a wider range of profiles to interview.
Yi Jun’s favourite interview, however, was with cybersecurity forensic investigators from the Government Technology Agency of Singapore (GovTech). “It’s a unique occupation and it is something a lot of youths wouldn’t know about! Telling unique stories is also one of the things Advisory has always set out to do,” shared Yi Jun.
The toughest challenge for Yi Jun and his team so far?
Coordinating weekly meetings. Two members are based in Singapore, while the rest, including Yi Jun, are studying overseas.
So, what’s next for them?
He said: “We’ve thought of working with the Ministry of Education’s Career and Guidance Counselling to create models to help students choose the right career for themselves. We’re looking at doing this within the first six months of 2018.”
Juggling his full-time studies in London while running Advisory is a constant challenge, but Yi Jun is confident that their efforts will pay off.
He added: “As long as you have the passion for what you’re doing and an idea that you think can make a difference, everything else will fall into place.”